Practicum Education Handbook

The field practicum is the signature pedagogy of social work education. The practicum course aligns with the values and principles that emerge from the themes of the School of Social Welfare, including:

Relationship Building: We engage in relationship building that fosters creativity, collaboration, and mutual learning. Relationship building is essential across practice, scholarship, education and service. We take a strengths approach as we serve our local, state, national, and global communities.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We embrace the inherent worth of all people. By taking the position of cultural humility and applying the lens of intersectionality, we seek to develop and promote modes of anti-oppressive social work and dismantle structures of exclusion.

Practice with Integrity: We demonstrate our integrity and trustworthiness as scholars, educators, practitioners, and community members by promoting social work values, ethical practice, and the process of critical reflection.

Multisystem Competency: We recognize that social, economic, and environmental injustices are the root causes of inequities and multiple strategies are necessary to address these. Our work integrates micro/macro social work and builds collaboration across systems and disciplines to create multi-level change.

Critical Perspective: We engage in deliberate and continuing examination of social conditions and solutions. We use critical inquiry to analyze and challenge existing structures and systems in order to advance the field and promote social, economic, and environmental justice.

Empirically Informed Social Work: We rigorously advance empirical research that impacts the social work knowledge base. By translating and applying evidence, we continually transform practice and policy across multiple systems.

The field practicum at both the BSW and Generalist level of the program engages the student in supervised social work practice to develop a generalist foundation and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field setting. This includes classes in Policy, Research, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Direct Practice and Community and Organization Practice. During the Advanced year of the MSW program, the curriculum focuses on helping students develop specialized skills in either the Clinical Social Work Practice or Macro Practice Specializations, and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field.

Practicum students in field practicum will address these nine core competencies:

  1. Competency 1 - Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  2. Competency 2 - Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
  3. Competency 3 - Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
  4. Competency 4 - Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
  5. Competency 5 - Engage in Policy Practice
  6. Competency 6 - Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations and Communities
  7. Competency 7 - Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  8. Competency 8 - Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  9. Competency 9 - Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

A subset of practice behaviors associated with each competency specific to the level (BSW, Generalist, Clinical, and Macro) can be found in the Learning Contract for each level.

Since every student comes to the practicum with unique professional and life experiences and different skills, and every practicum site provides different learning opportunities, the learning objectives are operationalized through the development of each student’s Learning Contract.

The field education partnership includes multiple participants – the student, the Practicum Instructor, in some settings a Preceptor, the Practicum Agency, the Practicum Liaison, the Practicum Education Office, and the School of Social Welfare. Open, regular communication among these participants can support each participant in fulfilling their role in the educational process.

The Student

Prior to practicum placement:

Practicum planning for the upcoming academic year begins in January. The planning process requires professionalism, which we expect of all of our students who are requesting a field practicum placement. To be eligible to request a practicum placement for the upcoming academic year, students must:

  • Have accepted admission to the School of Social Welfare.
  • Have completed any required prerequisite courses, in accordance with their program plan.
  • Be in good academic standing and eligible for advancement.
  • Enroll in a concurrent practice class (unless a Concurrent Practicum Exception is approved).
  • Submit all Field application materials by the due dates as instructed by Field Education Office

If these criteria are not met, the student may not be eligible to complete the practicum planning process, interview with a practicum agency, complete any practicum site on-boarding activities, or enter field practicum during the upcoming academic year. Students will be notified if they were expected to apply for field and are out of compliance with the application process. In that case, the Practicum Education Director may request a Student Review Committee meeting with the BSW or MSW Program Director to determine the student’s future in the program.

  • Background Checks: The Practicum Education Office completes background checks at a practicum site’s request. In cases where a practicum site request a background check be completed, the Practicum Education Office requires that students complete a background check prior to beginning practicum, and the results may be provided to the practicum agency.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: The School of Social Welfare obtains a Professional Liability Insurance policy on practicum students the summer prior to practicum beginning. Students will be required to complete the Professional Liability Insurance application questions (which are incorporated into the Practicum Application materials in Sonia) prior to the Practicum application due date or they will not be eligible to begin practicum in the fall. If there are issues with the student’s eligibility for insurance due to the Professional Liability Insurance 4 application questions, the student may not be able to be insured by the School and the student and practicum site will be notified.

During practicum placement:

While the School and the practicum site can provide an educational environment and learning opportunities, the student has the overall responsibility for their own learning in the classroom and the field agency. The student’s openness to learning and active engagement with learning activities are essential qualities for a successful practicum experience.

Specific responsibilities of the student in the field practicum include:

  • Provide the Practicum Education Office with practicum planning information in a timely manner. This means that materials are completed on the date specified or specific arrangements have been made when the information will be provided. Falsification or misrepresentation, or failure to supply the required information on practicum planning materials will result in terminating the practicum placement process and could impact continuation in the program.
  • Actively collaborate with the Practicum Education Office in the field placement process, and provide prompt feedback to the Practicum Education Office about the outcome of placement interviews.
  • Complete all practicum site requirements prior to the start of practicum. This may include (but not limited to): background checks, medical testing, vaccinations, and liability insurance. Regardless of practicum site requirements, students are strongly encouraged to obtain medical insurance for the duration of practicum.
  • Become familiar with both the rights and responsibilities of the educational process. If a student is asked to engage in an activity they doubt will enhance professional learning, then the student should openly discuss the activity with the Practicum Instructor. The Practicum Liaison may be consulted by the student and the Practicum Instructor for assistance in determining the appropriateness of a learning activity. On the other hand, students are encouraged to be open to a wide range of learning activities and to question their own assumptions about what might be gained from the experience.
  • Be professional in interactions with practicum site staff, clients, and student colleagues; conducting themselves within the guidelines provided by the agency, the School of Social Welfare, and the NASW Code of Ethics.
  • Develop a learning contract that meets the guidelines defined by the School of Social Welfare.
  • Be familiar with and to adhere to the due dates specified in the field education calendar. This includes completing and submitting required writing assignments to the Practicum Liaison.
  • Complete written work expected by the practicum site and the School in a timely manner. The Practicum Liaison may require additional work on the Learning Contract and writing samples if they are unsatisfactory.
  • A BSW or MSW student in practicum who conducts, or assists an practicum site in conducting, human subjects research activities must contact the Practicum Education Director who will consult with the Associate Deans prior to the student beginning any research activities.
  • If a student does not think their learning needs are being met, then it is the student’s responsibility to discuss this with their Practicum Instructor. If the student does not think that the Practicum Instructor is responding to the concerns, then it is the student’s responsibility to discuss this with the Practicum Liaison. If the student does not think that the Practicum Liaison is responding to their concerns, then it is the responsibility of the student to discuss this with the Associate Director or Director of Practicum Education. The student should anticipate continuing discussion with the Practicum Instructor in an effort to resolve concerns about learning needs within the practicum.
  • As required by a Kansas law that went into effect on July 1, 2017, concealed carry of handguns shall be permitted on University campuses with some limited exceptions. Unless your practicum is physically located on a KU campus that is covered by the PFPA, this provision of the law does not apply to your practicum site. Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun are responsible for knowing and following all related laws, restrictions, and policies related to their assigned practicum site.

The Practicum Instructor

(Note: Practicum Instructors are often referred to as Seminar Instructors at the BSW and MSW-Generalist Level.)

The Practicum Instructor is the practicum site’s representative to the School, just as the Practicum Liaison is the School’s representative to the practicum site and the student. The practicum site delegates to the Practicum Instructor the responsibility of serving as the student’s primary supervisor.

Qualifications to be a Practicum Instructor include an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program (BSW or MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program for BSW students), practice competence in one or more professional areas, an expressed interest in being a Practicum Instructor, a willingness to accept the Practicum Instructor’s role and responsibilities within the School’s field education program, and at least two years of post-degree social work experience. The Practicum Instructor has the following responsibilities:

  • Prepare for and conduct regularly scheduled face to face weekly social work instruction meetings with the student. Meetings are 1 hour weekly for a minimum of each week the student is in practicum. Virtual meetings are fine.
  • Provide for required time in accordance with the Minimum Clock Hours policy.
  • Collaborate with the student in identifying safety concerns that need to be considered in the practicum site; and practice and develop a safety plan with the student, in accordance with the Safety policy as listed in the Practicum Education Handbook.
  • Abide by the NASW Code of Ethics in your relationships with clients, colleagues and students and include discussions about the Code of Ethics in the weekly supervision meetings with the student.
  • Actively collaborate with the student and Practicum Liaison in the development, implementation and ongoing use of the Learning Contract.
  • Coordinate any student learning experiences overseen by other staff members.
  • Provide the student with ongoing feedback on the student's performance.
  • Support the student in gaining access to additional learning opportunities and resources in the practicum site and professional community that may be of interest to the student.
  • Maintain an ongoing evaluation of the student's progress (verbal and written), and complete evaluations of the student as required by the School of Social Welfare.
  • Collaborate with the Practicum Liaison in the planning, review and evaluation of the student's performance; recommend a mid-year and final grade to the Practicum Liaison.
  • Inform the Practicum Liaison promptly of any problem in the field placement and follow the protocol for addressing student performance concerns.
  • Participate in school-sponsored field education meetings, and when new to field instruction in the KU School of Social Welfare, complete mandatory Practicum Instructor orientation, either in-person or online.
  • Protect the confidentiality of student records as dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and not release or disclose records regarding the student (other than to University) without prior written consent of the student or where required by law.
  • Provide field instruction for four or fewer KU School of Social Welfare students.

Off-Site Practicum Instructors

In some instances, a field instructor may be located off-site, while the student works on-site with a Preceptor/Task Supervisor, who must be assigned by the practicum site when using an off-site Practicum Instructor. The off-site Practicum Instructor has the following additional responsibilities:

  • Within the first two weeks of practicum, the off-site Practicum Instructor should initiate contact with the student and Preceptor to facilitate a discussion regarding:
    • Orientation of the student
    • Roles of each person
    • Confidentiality expectations
    • Channels of communication throughout the practicum.
  • The off-site Practicum Instructor should have contact at least twice a month with the Preceptor, as well as a minimum of weekly contact with the student during the regularly scheduled supervision meeting.
  • The off-site Practicum Instructor and the Preceptor and should both be present for the scheduled Liaison site visits, if possible.
  • The off-site Practicum Instructor should consult with the Preceptor/Task Supervisor on the student’s evaluation.

The Practicum Agency

The Field Practicum Practicum site is a social service practicum site or human services setting that is able to offer the educational opportunities needed to support the School’s curriculum and is able to provide a qualified field instructor to guide the student’s learning. Practicum site participation in field education is voluntary. Practicum sites enter into a partnership with the School to provide field education because of their interest in professional social work education and their conviction that being part of the educational process enhances both the practicum site and the profession. The practicum site’s basic responsibility is to provide conditions in the practicum site that support the achievement of professional social work competencies and practice behaviors. The School selects practicum sites based on their ability to provide these conditions. The practicum site has the following responsibilities:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to social work practice and social work education.
  • Follow the University of Kansas non-discrimination policy, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities.
  • Provide a qualified Practicum instructor.
  • Provide the Practicum Instructor with sufficient time and resources to carry out field instruction responsibilities with the student and with the School of Social Welfare.
  • Provide the resources and the range of learning experiences necessary for the achievement of field education competencies.
  • Adopt an educational orientation toward the student, viewing the student as a learner and developing professional rather than as an apprentice or a staff member.
  • Provide the student with resources necessary to carry out learning assignments such as adequate workspace, clerical support, access to relevant practicum site records and documents. Travel reimbursements may be provided to students for authorized activities according to practicum site policy.
  • Provide students with appropriate training regarding practicum site policies and procedures guiding professional practice and protecting client confidentiality. This includes the practicum site’s adherence to all pertinent state and federal laws and regulations guiding protecting client information.
  • Provide vital and timely information to the School, such as a written description of the practicum site’s services and learning opportunities for students, confirmation of field placements, and updates on staff and program changes affecting field education.
  • For practicum sites having several students in placement, delegate a staff member to serve as the field education coordinator within the practicum site and as the contact person to the School.
  • Protect the confidentiality of student records as dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and shall not release or disclose records regarding the student (other than to University) without prior written consent of the student or where required by law.

The Practicum Liaison


The Practicum Liaison is the School’s representative to the practicum site and the student. The liaison is either a full-time faculty member in the School of Social Welfare or a qualified social worker who has been hired to fill this role. Every practicum placement has a liaison assigned by the school. The liaison’s basic responsibility is to monitor the educational progress of the student and assist the Practicum Instructor and student in fulfilling the academic requirements for practicum. The Practicum Liaison has the following responsibilities:


  • Initiate contact with the Practicum Instructor and student within the first two weeks of practicum, in order to clearly communicate availability and role as an educational resource.
  • Consult with the Practicum Instructor and student in developing and implementing the Learning Contract.
  • Provide written feedback to the student on the Learning Contract and other written materials completed by the student.
  • Visit the practicum agency at least twice during the practicum year – minimum of one time each semester. The minimum visitation is one Fall semester face-to-face onsite or virtual visit and one Spring semester face-to-face onsite visit or virtual visit.
    • Telephone conferences may be used in cases of documented technology challenges.
    • Site visits should take place after the first three weeks of practicum are complete, and before the last two weeks of practicum. Exceptions can be made in cases when scheduling is difficult due to illness, cancellations, etc. The Liaison should keep their supervisor (Director or Associate Director of Practicum Education) informed if a formal site visit falls outside of the schedule above.
    • The Liaison should meet with each student individually, apart from the Practicum Instructor, during each site visit or prior to the visit by phone or virtual meeting.
  • The Liaison should complete a Site Visit Form in Sonia for each student.
  • Respond to requests from Practicum Instructors and students for information and assistance within 48 hours.
  • Monitor progress by initiating contact with student and Practicum Instructor at least once each month.
  • Set alternate due dates for student assignments when a student’s practicum changes.
  • Recommend student end-of-semester grades to the Field Director, in collaboration with the Practicum Instructor, based on an informed judgment of the student’s performance as indicated in mid-year and the final practicum evaluation.
  • Inform supervisor (Associate Director of Practicum Education) of situations jeopardizing the student’s progress in practicum (e.g., unsatisfactory performance, agency-student mismatch). Submit a Practicum Site Meeting Form, including the written plan that details the agreed-upon plan of action to remedy the problem situations.
  • Assist students and/or Practicum Instructors in the resolution of practicum-related problems.
  • Participate in School-sponsored practicum education programs for liaisons.

The Preceptor/Task Supervisor

In some field practicum settings, a staff member who serves as an important auxiliary education resource for the student may be designated as a Preceptor. In every placement utilizing an offsite Practicum Instructor, a Preceptor must be assigned, but it is optional when a student has an onsite Practicum Instructor. In collaboration with the Practicum Instructor, the Preceptor works with the student on specific educational tasks in the Preceptor’s area of expertise. It is expected that many staff will participate in the student’s education, but the relationship with the Preceptor is ongoing and is a formal arrangement between the Practicum Instructor, the Preceptor, and the student. The Practicum Instructor maintains responsibility for the student’s educational program and integrating the work the Student is doing with the Preceptor into the student’s overall learning.

The Preceptor may be any staff member who is able to be an educational resource for the student, including an experienced social worker, a new social work graduate, or other professional helpers. In the case of advanced-year clinical students, to ensure their daily clinical practice is adequately supervised, students should be assigned a preceptor with advanced behavioral health credentials and/or expertise. Students may expect the Preceptor to:

  • Model a way of working with clients and staff by inviting the student to observe, question, discuss, and participate in the work the Preceptor is doing;
  • Contribute ideas, facts, and other relevant data about their own practice and the workings of the agency;
  • Provide feedback to the student on the student’s performance;
  • Provide feedback to the Practicum Instructor on the student’s performance, as specified in the formal agreement between the student, Preceptor, and Practicum Instructor;
  • Consult with the student and Practicum Instructor in writing the learning contract and specifying the learning opportunities that may be available to the student.

The Practicum Education Office

The Practicum Education Office’s primary responsibility is the organization, implementation, and evaluation of the practicum education program. The Director of Practicum Education oversees this responsibility. Alongside the Director, the office includes the Associate Directors of Practicum Education, the Office Manager, and the Practicum Liaisons. The Practicum Education Office has the following responsibilities:

  • Establish criteria and recruit a network of qualified practicum sites and Practicum Instructors to participate in the practicum education program.
  • Match students with practicum sites participating in practicum education.
  • Assign a Practicum Liaison to each agency, whose purpose is to serve as the link between the School/Practicum Education Office, the Agency, and the student.
  • Establish and conduct educational programs for practicum participants.
  • Provide orientations for students about the practicum education requirements.
  • Provide orientations for Practicum Instructors and liaisons.
  • Organize educational events (Practicum Forums) for Practicum Instructors, practicum liaisons, and academic faculty.
  • Prepare a written Handbook of practicum education policies, programs, and procedures for all practicum education participants.
  • Establish ongoing and periodic opportunities for practicum participants to evaluate the practicum education program.
  • Issue documentation of continuing education credits for attendance at School-sponsored practicum education programs and for providing practicum instruction.

Responsibility for Placement of Students

As Field Practicum Education is a crucial component of the BSW and MSW degree programs, the Practicum Education Office assumes responsibility for placing students with approved practicum sites and qualified practicum instructors. Placements are determined based on the capacity of practicum sites to offer learning opportunities aligned with the required professional competencies delineating the BSW, MSW Generalist, Clinical, and Macro Practice requirements. Student preferences for fields of practice, client populations, and social issues are considered in the placement process.

Efforts are made to accommodate student needs related to transportation, proximity to the agency, and family care requirements. Preferences for specific practicum sites are taken into account whenever feasible, except when the requested placement is over 60 miles from the student’s home. In such cases, placement at that location is contingent upon no other viable options closer to the student’s home community. However, the Practicum Education Office cannot guarantee placement at preferred practicum settings.

Students may request to complete a practicum at a site where they have volunteered or previously completed a practicum. This request must be disclosed to the Associate Director of Practicum Education, who will review the request based on various factors, including the site's capacity to offer new and diverse learning opportunities.

Students are encouraged to recommend practicum sites not currently participating in field education. The Practicum Education Office will assess the site's resources and staff qualifications. Students should refrain from initiating contact with practicum site representatives without explicit authorization from the Practicum Education Office.

Once a practicum site is identified, students will be expected to interview with the site and confirm their practicum placement with the Practicum Education Office. In most cases, changes to practicum assignments after confirmation are uncommon, barring extenuating circumstances, and no changes are considered after June 1.

If a match between a student and practicum site is deemed unsuitable, the student should contact the Practicum Education Office for alternatives. If a student is declined by three different practicum sites, a Student Review Committee meeting will be convened to explore placement options for the academic year.

The Practicum Education Office expects students to actively engage in the planning process. Failure to adhere to instructions or meet scheduling deadlines may result in placement delays or inability to secure a practicum for the intended academic year, affecting the student's academic progress.

Placements are Not Guaranteed

The Practicum Education Office expects students to actively engage in the planning process. Failure to adhere to instructions or meet scheduling deadlines may result in placement delays or inability to secure a practicum for the intended academic year, affecting the student's academic progress.

In the first few weeks of the Practicum, it is crucial that the student, Field Instructor, and Field Liaison develop mutual expectations regarding not only when to communicate, but also understanding the different styles and expectations around communication.

Contact Requirements: Practicum Instructors, Practicum Liaisons/Seminar Instructors, and Students

  • Students and Practicum Instructors have a mutual responsibility to contact each other before the start of the Practicum and to arrange an initial orientation meeting/start date.
  • Occasionally, students and/or Practicum Instructors may wish for the student to start the Practicum before the official start date. This is appropriate only for completing pre-practicum orientation or training, excluding client work or other direct/indirect practice. The orientation/training hours can count towards the overall practicum hour requirement, and the student should be notified of this requirement before accepting the practicum placement. No duties outside of pre-practicum orientation are acceptable before the official start of the practicum.
  • The student should inform the Practicum Office of the preliminary arrangements made with their Practicum Instructor concerning practicum site orientation, the start of the Practicum, and the student's fall schedule. Additionally, they should share their contact information as well as any special needs or issues that may affect their learning in the Practicum.
  • In late August, before the beginning date of the Practicum, all students in the Practicum will be contacted by their Practicum Liaisons. During this meeting:
  • The Practicum Liaison will provide students with their contact information and share their general approach to the Practicum Liaison role.
  • The student should inform the Practicum Liaison of the preliminary arrangements made with their Practicum Instructor concerning practicum site orientation and the start of the Practicum. Additionally, they should share their contact information as well as any special needs or issues that may affect their learning in the Practicum.
  • The Practicum Liaison is expected to contact the Practicum Instructor during the first 2 weeks of the student starting the Practicum to provide information about the best ways to communicate about student progress and to initiate a beginning relationship with the Practicum Instructor.
  • The Practicum Instructor is expected to provide a minimum of 1 hour of field instruction each week to the student.
  • If a Practicum Instructor is mentoring more than one student, group field instruction may be suitable under the following conditions:
    • Students have at least one individual supervision meeting with their Practicum Instructor per month.
    • Students can request individual supervision if needed at any point for specific issues they are not comfortable sharing with the group.
    • The Practicum Instructor conducting the group supervision is knowledgeable and skilled in facilitating groups.
  • Practicum Instruction meetings can occur via video conferencing or in-person. The Practicum Instructor, in collaboration with the student, is responsible for ensuring that the modality of video conferencing used (Zoom, Skype, etc.) meets the practicum site's requirements for confidentiality, as client information may be discussed during the supervision period.
  • It is expected that Practicum Liaisons will meet with the student and the Practicum Instructor at least once each semester. The meeting can be at the agency or virtual. Practicum Liaisons will meet with students individually before or during the site visit.
  • It is expected that the student and Practicum Instructor will be available for supervision and meetings with the Practicum Liaison. If there is an identified Preceptor, they are also encouraged to participate in the site visit.
  • Students, Practicum Instructors, and Liaisons need to keep each other informed about any events that might influence the student's field placement. Early identification of issues is critical in preventing problems. Contact the Practicum Education Office for additional support when there are unresolved issues or when help is needed to brainstorm an intervention or solution.

Student: Practicum Site Orientation Suggestions

The practicum site and Practicum Instructor are expected to provide the student with an orientation at the start of the Practicum. Some suggestions that prior students have found helpful include:

  1. Manual: Develop a brief orientation manual that includes:
    • Organizational chart
    • Practicum site procedures
    • Map of the agency
    • Paperwork / timesheet procedures
    • Confidentiality guidelines
    • Ethics
    • A list of community and practicum site resources
    • Practicum site contact information and staff phone numbers
    • Sample release of information forms
    • Sample of other forms
    • Other helpful resources for working with the practicum site client population
    • Ideas for how to engage with students
    • Local restaurants, etc. for out-of-town students
  2. Other sites/agencies: It is important for students to spend some time not only learning about the site where they will be assigned but also to visit other sites within the organization and collaborating agencies. For example, the student may be assigned to work with families and children, but it is also important for them to visit the senior service center within the agency.
  3. Important meetings/trainings: Students are often included in staff meetings, case conferences, team meetings, and some board meetings. Many practicum sites have found it helpful to include students in staff training opportunities. All of these components help students to more fully understand the organization and the community as a context for professional practice.
  4. Safety issues: Safety should be a primary topic in the student's orientation. Practicum Instructors should review the Safety policy in this handbook and utilize it in constructing student orientation.

There are two basic options for completing practicum requirements.

Concurrent Practicum

  • The student will concurrently enrolled in the required practice and seminar courses and the Practicum during both Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Students end Practicum by the Thursday before Stop Day.
  • Students resume regular Practicum schedules before Spring semester classes start.
  • The Field Practicum year ends just before the end of spring classes. 

Full-time students complete the required practicum hours at the same time they are taking the other required courses. Part-time students complete practicum during the year when they are enrolled in the required practice courses.

  • BSW students enroll in SW 601 (practicum) concurrently with SW 600, SW 610, and SW 612
  • MSW Generalist students enroll in SW 701 & SW 702 concurrently with SW 700, SW 710, and SW 711
  • Clinical Specialization MSW students enroll in SW 801 & SW 802 concurrently with SW 810 and SW 811
  • Macro Practice Specialization MSW students are required to develop an individualized plan if completing the advanced level part-time. SW 804 & SW 805 and the required Macro Practice Specialization courses must be taken concurrently with the plan developed with their advisor.

Employment Based Practicum

Students employed in a social services agency may apply for an Employment Based Practicum (EBP).

Eligibility is determined by:

  • The practicum site must provide professional learning opportunities that align with the student's learning contract requirements and offer some new learning experiences.
  • The Practicum Instructor must be a qualified social worker who is not the student's direct supervisor. 
    • In cases where there is not an agency-affiliated qualified social worker, the Practicum Office may be able to identify offsite field instruction.
    • In rare cases where neither the agency or the Practicum Office can identify a Practicum Instructor, the Associate Director or Practicum Director may approve a direct supervisor serving as Practicum Instructor. However, the supervisor and student must thoroughly explain how they will account for the dual relationship and keep separate the two roles- boss and instructor.

Accepting Employment with a Practicum Site

Students who can demonstrate that their practicum meets the Employment Based Practicum (EBP) requirements may accept an offer of an employment at their practicum site. An EBP application must be completed and approved by the Practicum Education Office to ensure the guidelines for an EBP are in place. Students are responsible for notifying the Practicum Education Office if they will accept an offer of employment at their practicum agency.    


Some practicum sites elect to pay the practicum student a stipend. This is not considered to be an Employment Based Practicum. The stipend, as defined by the Department of Labor, is a fixed sum paid to the student during their participation in a practicum at the agency. In the case of a stipend, the student holds only the practicum role at the agency and does not need to complete an EBP application.

Concurrent Practicum Exception

In rare instances, students may need to apply for a Concurrent Practicum Exception. This typically involves the student taking the required coursework first, then completing practicum in the summer or academic year immediately following. Qualifying for a Concurrent Practicum Exception requires that:

  1. The student already works or volunteers in a social service agency that provides the opportunities to support the required practice course work while the student is not in practicum.
  2. The student has completed the Concurrent Practicum Exception Form and received written approval from the BSW or MSW Program Director and the Director of Field Education for these alternative arrangements. Students should contact the Practicum Office for this form.
  3. The student has satisfactorily completed the required practice courses prior to the Practicum.
  4. The student enrolls for academic credit during the semester(s) in which they are completing their Practicum.

As part of the application for a Concurrent Practicum Exception, a student must identify their plan for completing the required practicum hours. The most common plan of completion is the Spring and Summer semester block practicum, although a student may complete the required hours over the course of two consecutive Fall and Spring semesters. A Spring/Summer block practicum may be arranged by the Practicum Education Office when a student has had a concurrent practicum exception approved. In this plan, the student is in practicum 40 hours a week until the required number of hours have been completed (12-14 weeks). Because the Spring/Summer block practicum must be completed before the end of the Summer semester, students should expect to begin the block practicum prior to the end of the Spring semester.

BSW Students and MSW Generalist students:

  • Must complete a total of 416 hours in practicum
  • 16 hours a week is the minimum requirement during the practicum calendar.
  • Students are expected to be engaged in direct client practice assignments and activities for a minimum of 50% of the hours required for field practicum. This could include:
    • Working with clients one on one or in groups
    • Advocacy on behalf of a specific client
    • Case staffings
    • Paperwork regarding specific clients It does not include administrative functions that do not involve specific clients but instead involve processing aggregate data, policy advocacy, etc.

MSW Clinical and MSW Macro Students:

  • Must complete a total of 512 hours in practicum
  • 16 hours a week is the minimum requirement during the practicum calendar.
  • Students at the Macro level are expected to be engaged in direct practice with their practicum site’s clients.  “Client” at the macro level may include individual, families, practicum site staff, organizations, communities, institutions, etc.  A specific percentage of direct practice is not defined at the macro level, but should not be limited to a one-time occasion.
  • Students at the Clinical MSW are expected to be engaged in direct client practice assignments and activities for a minimum of 50% of the hours required for field practicum. This could include:
    • Working with clients one on one or in groups
    • Advocacy on behalf of a specific client
    • Case staffings
    • Paperwork regarding specific clients

      It does not include administrative functions that do not involve specific clients but instead involve processing aggregate data, policy advocacy, etc.

      There may be cases where the student is unable to reach 50% direct client contact. In those cases, the student and Practicum Instructor should update the Practicum Liaison on they specific barriers or practicum context; and should demonstrate (either verbally or in written format)  how the student’s learning requirements are still being met. 


  • Macro specialization students, who pursue a Kansas clinical license (LSCSW) must take additional post degree clinical course work.
  • Post MSW degree, macro specialization students are eligible to be licensed at the LMSW level.
  • In all states that license at the LBSW or LMSW level, you must have a correlating degree (BSW or MSW) from an accredited social work program. KU School of Social Welfare BSW and MSW programs are accredited. 

All Practicum Students:

  • Schedule should include a full 8-hour day every week, in order to learn the practicum site context for practice. In some cases, an 8-hour day is not possible for the student or practicum site due to operating hours, etc. In these cases, the alternate schedule, with the longest period of attendance possible, should be worked out with the Practicum Instructor and reported to the Field Liaison. It is expected that students will not regularly attend practicum in intervals that are less than 4 hours.
  • Schedule should be approved by the Practicum Instructor and should put student learning (not practicum site coverage, etc.) as the top priority. ​​​​
  • Students' practicum assignments and hours must be completed at the practicum site or practicum site-sanctioned locations. Examples of practicum site-sanctioned locations would be another practicum site where the student is scheduled to spend the day, a location where the practicum site is conducting an off-site support group, etc. Practicum hours should only be accumulated from a student's home in cases where agency employees routinely and as part of programming conduct work from home.
  • Students will maintain an ongoing written record of their Practicum hours in Sonia, to be approved by the Practicum Instructor. At a minimum, hours must be approved by the end of Fall semester for that semester’s hours, and by the end of Spring semester for that semester’s hours. It is strongly recommended that the student enter their hours weekly and that Practicum Instructors approve them at least once a month.

Attendance and Leave Policy

Students are responsible for knowing andfollowing their practicum site absence policies; this is critical when considering client/patient care. 

  • If a student would like to take a day off not listed in their practicum-level calendar, they must let their Practicum Instructor know ahead of time, to the extent possible.
  • In almost all cases, Practicum Instructors approve additional days off, not the Practicum Office.
  • Outside of those listed in the practicum calendar, no additional leave days are granted.  Missed days that are notlisted in the practicum calendar, including days when the practicum site or KU are closed, must be made up. 
  • So, for example, if an agency is closed for Labor Day and the student regularly attends practicum on Mondays, they must plan to make that day up sometime over the course of the practicum year.

Calculating Hours

Students attend practicum for a minimum of 16 hours per week.  They need to monitor their hours regularly.  Based on an agency or individual’s schedule, occasionally- they may need to add more than 16 hours per week to reach half the hours by the end of the Fall semester and complete all required hours by the practicum end date.  Students and Practicum Instructors may request an extension, which the Practicum Office can typically accommodate. Some students may end with more hours than are required, but they cannot end with less. Students who find they have “additional” hours may opt to flex time with their Practicum Instructor’s approval. However, they may not end practicum early because some course assignments are associated with regular practicum attendance.  

Change in life circumstances/Extended Illness

In the case that a student will have to miss more than the equivalent of two weeks of practicum due to a crisis, surgery, or illness during a given semester, the student should notify the Field Education Office and Field Instructor as soon as they are able. The student will meet with the Practicum Director; and in some cases the BSW or MSW Program Director, to discuss the options and resources available to them. In the case of absences beyond the allowed Sick/Family significant absences due to an illness or medical condition, students may be required to provide a doctor’s verification for readiness to return and/or a medical release. Students are also encouraged to contact the Student Access Center to learn if they qualify for accommodations in practicum. 


University Holidays/Breaks

Outside of those listed in the practicum calendar, no additional leave days are granted.  Missed days that are notlisted in the practicum calendar, including days when the practicum site or KU are closed, must be made up. 

So, for example, if an agency is closed for Labor Day and the student regularly attends practicum on Mondays, they must plan to make that day up sometime over the course of the practicum year.

Students may choose to attend Practicum during breaks on the practicum calendar and may count those hours. Extra hours may not be used to complete the practicum early. Additionally, extra hours may not be used to routinely reduce the weekly hours below the required minimum of 16 hours per/week. Given that, students and Practicum Instructors are encouraged to weigh practicum/course/life balance before exceeding the course hour requirements. 

  1. Winter Break: Since the KU Winter Break is especially long, the Practicum Education Office sets the practicum calendar based on an early January start date for the spring semester. It is expected that the student will be back in practicum by the early January start date.

  2. Inclement Weather: Students are expected to attend practicum during inclement weather if the practicum site is open and staff social workers are reporting for work. If the practicum site closes due to inclement weather when a student is scheduled to attend, the student is not required to attend practicum. These hours do not count towards the student's total clock hours and will have to be made up at a later point in the semester.

    If the practicum site remains open during inclement weather and the student decides it is not safe to travel to the agency, the student should act in the interests of preserving personal safety. The student should promptly notify the Field Instructor or the designated practicum site contact about the decision not to attend practicum. The student may use the allowed leave time for this absence or the student should plan to make-up the missed hours with a schedule approved by the Field Instructor.

  3. Study Abroad:  If the student attends a study abroad program during the time practicum is in session, the student cannot use study abroad experiences as practicum hours.  Again, students are expected to behave in a professionally responsible manner and make appropriate arrangements for their absence.

  4. Activities: The KU Practicum Office requires the minimum hours set by Council on Social Work Education for BSW and MSW degrees. Therefore, the Field Office prioritizes optimizing hours in practicum to fulfill the practicum hour requirement. It is required that a student has Practicum Instructor or Director of Practicum Education approval to count hours that are outside of practicum toward the practicum hour requirement. Eligible events may include:
    1. Attendance at school-sponsored educational programs that the Director of Practicum approves.  Examples of school-sponsored educational programs include Research Talks, Practicum Day, membership on the School’s curriculum committee, the Dean or Practicum Student Advisory Committee, or search committee.
    2. Attendance at mandatory Practicum Education orientations or workshops.
    3. Attendance at practicum site-authorized educational programs.

Guidelines for Supervision and Evaluating Student Performance

Practicum supervision is the primary means through which a collaborative relationship is developed between the student and the Practicum Instructor, and the means through which expectations are clarified and performance evaluated. This is a time to reflect on the activities of the past week – not just to report what was accomplished, but also to discuss learning points, share successes and struggles, and identify any specific needs the student may have. This regular supervisory meeting is different from the informal contacts that the student may have with the Practicum Instructor and other practicum site staff. It is a planned, scheduled time that is set aside to discuss the student’s social work practice. The School of Social Welfare expects that the student(s) and Field Instructor will meet weekly for approximately one hour.

Supervision meetings can occur via video conferencing or in-person. The Practicum Instructor is responsible to ensure that the modality of video conferencing used (Zoom, Skype, etc.) meets the practicum site’s requirements for confidentiality, since client information may be discussed during the supervision period.

If a Practicum Instructor is mentoring more than one student, group field instruction may be a good fit under the following conditions:

  • Students have at least one individual supervision meeting with their field instructor per month.
  • Students can request individual supervision if needed at any point, for specific issues they are not comfortable sharing with the group.
  • The Practicum Instructor conducting the group supervision is knowledgeable and skilled in facilitating groups.

Here are some suggestions to help make the field instruction time most effective:

  1. Meet weekly, throughout the year, at a regularly scheduled time with few or no interruptions;
  2. For each meeting, the student should be encouraged prepare an agenda of important experiences they want to discuss;
  3. Use this time to focus on the student’s practice (questions, experiences, and concerns about practice), rather than as a time to schedule tasks;
  4. Regular reviews of the student’s Learning Contract can help to track progress, revise assignments when needed, and preserve a focus on student learning.
  5. The student can be encouraged come prepared with her/his written process recordings, and video or audiotapes, if this is something the student has chosen to utilize.
  6. The Practicum Instructor can review the student’s written process recordings, video and/or audiotapes and provide balanced feedback, discussing the student’s strengths and skill sets needing more practice for improvement.
  7. The student and Practicum Instructor should work to develop an open, honest and professional relationship. Part of this relationship will include determining the most effective way to give each other feedback.
  8. Students are encouraged to use mistakes as an opportunity to learn. Practicum Instructors can assist the student to explore concrete steps for improving professional skills.
  9. The student and Practicum Instructor should discuss the strategies that are most helpful in facilitating the student’s learning. Developing and trying new learning strategies is encouraged.
  10. The student will use the NASW Code of Ethics to guide to their professional learning, within the agency, and within the community.
  11. The student should discuss what she/he is learning in classes with the Practicum Instructor. Students should discuss classroom assignments with the Practicum Instructor for suggestions and guidance, especially when class assignments are based on experiences occurring within field practicum.

Providing Feedback to Students

It is extremely important to monitor and evaluate student progress throughout the practicum. In addition to the feedback the Practicum Instructor provides on a regular basis through supervision meetings, some additional mechanisms have been established to formally evaluate student progress on an ongoing basis. These include:

  1. Initial Learning Contract (developed at the beginning of the student’s practicum)
  2. Site visits (conducted by the Liaisons once per semester)
  3. Mid-year evaluation (due near the completion of the Fall Semester)
  4. Weekly process recordings
  5. Standards and demonstrating technical writing proficiency
  6. Spring Semester Learning Contract Revision
  7. End of the year evaluation.

It is important that along with the numerical ratings that the Practicum Instructor provide written feedback to the student. The final evaluation becomes the official record of the student’s completion of this degree requirement and is retained by the School.

The above feedback mechanisms are required by the School, and are expected to be completed with the input and review of the field triad: the student, the Practicum Instructor and the Practicum Liaison. Any of these parties can request to meet to further discuss the student’s progress.

It is expected that students who have satisfactorily completed Practicum Education and degree requirements will meet minimum qualifications for licensure. Therefore, a Practicum Instructor should NOT recommend a passing grade for a student if the Practicum Instructor is not willing to give a positive recommendation to the state licensing agency.

    Writing Assignments for Field Practicum (Student):

    Policy on Assignments

    1. Required to complete practicum: The assignments listed in the Practicum Education Handbook and field practicum calendars are required for the satisfactory completion of practicum at all levels (BSW, Generalist, Clinical, and Macro). These assignments include the Learning Contract. The assignments are used to assess student attainment of professional writing skills. Evaluation of writing proficiency is included in the Field Practicum Evaluation of Student Progress.

      If a required writing assignment is not completed by the end date for field practicum, no grade will be submitted. If a past due writing assignment is not completed before the start of practicum in early January (spring start date for practicum) or by one month following the end date for field practicum (end of the spring term or end of summer block practicum), a grade of Unsatisfactory may be submitted for field practicum.

    2. Extension: If a student needs an extension of a due date for a required writing assignment, the extension must be requested before the actual due date, and the extension requires approval from the student’s Practicum Liaison or Director of Practicum.
      1. A new date must be set. Students are responsible for completing the required work by the newly specified due date.
      2. If a student’s written work does not satisfactorily address the expectations for the assignment, the Practicum Liaison will provide feedback and require continued work on the assignment to attain a satisfactory level of completion. The time allowed for satisfactory completion should be limited to one week from the date the Practicum Liaison provides feedback and the request for continued work to the student.
    3. Late or missed assignments: The first late assignment without an approved extension will result in an official written warning to the student from the Practicum Liaison. The warning will include a reminder that the on-time completion of practicum writing assignments is a requirement for successful completion of practicum. This warning will be sent directly to the student with courtesy copies sent to the Practicum Instructor and the Director of Practicum Education.

      A second occurrence of a missed or late writing assignment may result in a required meeting of the student with the student’s Practicum Liaison and the Practicum Instructor. A plan will be drafted at this meeting to address timely completion of all assignments. A copy of the plan will be provided to the student. The Practicum Instructor and Practicum Liaison will retain copies of the plan. A copy will be forwarded to the Director of Practicum Education.

      A third occurrence of a missed or late writing assignment may result in further action to be determined by the Director of Practicum Education, which could include a recommendation for the student’s dismissal from field practicum and the corresponding practice or Macro Practice course to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and the appropriate Program Director (BSW or MSW). This could result in a significant delay in the completion of degree requirements of up to one full academic year. Because credit is not given for partial completion of practicum, a second full practicum at the same level will be necessary to fulfill practicum requirements.


    1. Credit: Students receive academic credit for practicum only after they have completed the total number of clock hours and all required assignments.

    2. Grades: Grades are recommended by the Practicum Liaison in consultation with the Practicum Instructor, and assigned by the Director of Practicum Education. Grading for practicum occurs two different times during the year - midterm and end of year. A student is assigned a Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) at the end of the first and second semester.

    3. Incomplete: An Incomplete (I) may be given when a student has made satisfactory progress, but has insufficient clock hours or unfinished learning assignments for completion of the practicum due to illness or other factors beyond the student’s control for which an exception has been granted by the Practicum Instructor and the Practicum Liaison. A plan of completion must be submitted and must be approved by the Director of Practicum Education. The approval of the Director must be in place before a grade of Incomplete is recommended; without prior approval, the Director will not assign an incomplete and the student may receive an Unsatisfactory grade.

      Incompletes are given in the Fall semester in cases where the student has not reached approximately half their hours and/or the Practicum Instructor reports they have not had sufficient time with the student to evaluate their practice behaviors. When an Incomplete is given during Fall semester, the first half of the student’s hours (208 for BSW/MSW Generalist or 256 for MSW Clinical/MSW Macro) must be completed by the end of the second week in March, or a grade of Unsatisfactory may be given for Fall semester. If an Incomplete is given for Spring semester, all practicum hours must be completed by the end of Summer semester, or a grade of Unsatisfactory may be given for Spring semester. All hours must be completed by the end of the Summer semester to avoid impact on graduation or program progression.

    4. Unsatisfactory grade: If a student receives an Unsatisfactory grade at the end of the Fall semester, no academic credit is awarded for Practicum, and the student may not progress to the Spring semester practicum. If a student receives an Unsatisfactory grade at the end of the Spring semester, no academic credit is awarded for Practicum and the student may not progress to an Advanced Practicum and or graduation. An Unsatisfactory grade in practicum may be assigned if:
      1. a student engages in behavior described under "Grounds for Dismissal" in the BSW/MSW Handbook;

      2. the student does not demonstrate an overall competency composite rating of 3 or higher on the end-of-semester evaluation;

      3. the Practicum Instructor and Liaison concur that based on social work competency and/or ethical, professional, and technical standards, they would recommend an unsatisfactory grade; and/or

      4. the student does not reach the hour requirement. 

    5. If an Unsatisfactory grade is assigned, the Practicum Director and BSW/MSW Program Director will meet with the student to discuss the student's future in the program. [BSW Handbook | School of Social Welfare ( Handbook | School of Social Welfare (]

    Change of Grade and Grade Appeal

    Please refer to the University Senate Rules and Regulations regarding Academic Work and Its Evaluation- Article II, Section 3, for more information about change of grades and appeals.

      Grounds for Dismissal

      Grounds for Dismissal are specified in the School of Social Welfare’s BSW and MSW Student Handbooks.

      Students are responsible for reading the School of Social Welfare's BSW or MSW Student Handbook and the NASW Code of Ethics. Students will be held responsible for knowing the information about professional conduct specified in these documents.

      Protocol for Student Performance Concerns

      Please see Appendix B for the Technical Standards, Ethical Behavior Standards, and Professional Conduct Standards for School of Social Welfare students. If the student’s behavior does not meet the criteria for immediate dismissal, the following procedures must occur before an Unsatisfactory grade will be assigned in Field Practicum:

      1. The Practicum Instructor must inform the student of the specific aspects of their performance that are not satisfactory. It is usually appropriate to begin with a face-to-face conversation about the concerns. However, significant concerns or repeated concerns that are not improving after discussion with the student should be immediately communicated to the Practicum Liaison. When a practicum site and Practicum Instructor are willing to address problems that arise in field practicum to continue the placement, a change of placement is usually not considered.
      2. Efforts are directed to developing a plan to constructively address problems and concerns. The student, Practicum Instructor and Practicum Liaison are expected to meet to develop a behaviorally specific, time-limited plan to help the student improve performance and satisfactorily fulfill expectations. The Practicum Liaison can request the presence of Practicum Education Office staff at this meeting. The plan should be documented on the Practicum site Meeting Form in Sonia and should be behaviorally specific so that the student, Practicum Instructor and Liaison can readily assess and monitor the student’s progress toward attaining a passing grade. The plan should specify:
        1. Presenting issues and goal/s.
        2. Action steps by student, and/or Practicum Instructor, and/or Practicum Liaison.
        3. Specific dates for evaluation of progress toward goal/s.
        4. The Practicum Liaison will inform the appropriate Associate Director of Practicum Education if the Student is in danger of disrupting from practicum, or receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation.

      3. The Practicum Liaison is expected to be actively involved in any situation where the student is in danger of disrupting from practicum or receiving an unsatisfactory grade. The Practicum Liaison will offer consultation during this period to the student and the Practicum Instructor and will promptly inform their supervisor. The Practicum Liaison may require specific documentation from the student and/or the  Instructor to assist in addressing the identified problems. Students are expected to cooperate fully with the Practicum Liaison and Practicum Instructor to address performance difficulties.

      Conflict Protocol

      1. Conflict Arises with student or Practicum Instructor (Direct discussion of the issue by student and Field Instructor)
      2. Notify and meet with the Practicum Liaison to address the problem and develop a plan.
      3. Complete a Practicum site Meeting Form including a written plan and follow-up date in Sonia
      4. Practicum Liaison maintains contact with the student and the Practicum Instructor to evaluate progress on the plan.

      If Satisfactory Progress is accomplished, the Practicum Liaison continues to monitor progress.

      If Satisfactory Progress is NOT accomplished, the Practicum Liaison notifies their supervisor, the Associate Director of Field Education

      In cases of a Practicum Disruption, the Associate Director of Practicum Education will work with the Practicum Liaison to complete the Practicum Disruption Form in Sonia.

        It is expected that the student will remain in the same practicum for two semesters, or for the entire block practicum. A change in practicum may be considered under the following circumstances:

        1. Unanticipated changes within the field practicum site that makes it impossible for the practicum site to continue to support the educational needs of the student, such as budget cuts, staff changes, and loss of clients. In these instances, the Practicum Instructor needs to inform the Practicum Liaison immediately. The Practicum Liaison will then immediately contact the Practicum Education Office and arrangements will be made for the student to be placed in a different practicum. When the change in practicum is due to changes in the practicum agency, the student will be given credit for the hours they have accrued.
        2. If a significant mismatch has occurred between the student and the field practicum site or Practicum Instructor that was not apparent during the placement interview, a change in placement may be considered. In order for a change to be considered:
          1. The student and Practicum Instructor should first discuss any difficulties with one another, and then invite the Practicum Liaison to meet with them if the problem cannot be resolved.
          2. If the Practicum Liaison agrees that there are irreconcilable differences for either the student or the agency, then the Practicum Liaison will immediately inform the appropriate Associate Director and complete a Practicum Disruption Form.
          3. Depending on the circumstances, a student may be placed as soon as possible in a new agency, or the student may be required to delay practicum until another practicum is available that meets their educational needs.
          4. Credit for hours accrued prior to the disruption will be determined by the Practicum Education Office based on all of the factors in the particular situation.
        3. In rare circumstances, the Practicum Education Office may disrupt the practicum administratively, if the student exhibits an extensive pattern of unprofessional or unethical behavior and the Practicum Instructor is unwilling to disrupt the practicum, or if the student exhibits behavior that is egregious in nature.
        4. For any circumstance under which the practicum disrupts, the Director of Practicum Education may request a meeting of a Student Review Committee. This will involve a meeting with student, the Director of Practicum Education, the Director of the BSW or the MSW Program and any other appropriate individuals at the discretion of the appropriate Program Director. The intent of the Student Review Committee is to clarify the circumstances leading to the disruption of the placement and to develop a plan for the Student’s continued progress in the program.
        5. In situations where a student commits an act, or series of actions that result in the disruption of the practicum, the student may lose all credit for the practicum and may not be replaced in another practicum. This is determined on a case-by-case basis through the Student Review Committee process, as described above.

        Replacement Following Practicum Disruption

        When a disruption occurs and a decision is made to re-place the student with a new practicum site during the current academic year, additional hours may be added to the required hours remaining. This will be determined by the Director of Practicum Education based on a review of the situation. This time is intended to provide the student, the Practicum Instructor, and the practicum site with a reasonable period of time for the student’s orientation and development of a new Learning Contract.

          Confidentiality & HIPAA

          The NASW Code of Ethics requires that social workers protect client confidentiality and privacy. Various state and federal regulations, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule, may also protect the 28 confidentiality of client information in settings where social work students are engaged in practicum placements. In order to safeguard these client rights:

          • Always disguise the name and other personal identifying information when you speak or write about a client.
          • If writing in detail about a client, ask permission from that client.
          • Share nothing discussed in class about specific clients or other students outside of this classroom.
          • Any information shared with the instructor will be confidential, within the limits defined by the NASW Code of Ethics and relevant legal guidelines.

          Student Confidentiality

          The practicum site is the academic setting for BSW, MSW Generalist, MSW Clinical or MSW Macro Practicum. Practicum site staff work in collaboration with University officials to guide and support the student’s development during their field experience and therefore are deemed to have a legitimate educational interest in the student’s performance. As such, information disclosed to practicum site personnel, such as field instructors, may be shared with University personnel if it relates to or could affect the student’s practicum performance, including conduct at the field site. University staff may likewise share such information with practicum site staff.


            Practicum Instructors play a significant role in helping students to become familiar with the practicum site’s safety procedures. It is not unusual for students to have concerns about personal safety. However, many students find it difficult to discuss these directly with the Practicum Instructor, especially at the beginning of their experience in the agency. The 2013 NASW Guidelines for Social Work Safety in the Workplace included this standard to guide field instructors:

            “Standard 11. Student Safety Social workers need to be prepared for safe social work practice during their student years. Interpretation: As practicum experiences are an important part of the social work curriculum, schools of social work are responsible for ensuring that social work students are educated about concepts and techniques related to safety as well as supervised in safe environments. Social work safety should be part of the curriculum/training of field practicum instructors. Schools should place students in settings with sound safety policies and procedures that should be reviewed with students in school and in the placement setting. Professional safety should be part of the school and practicum site orientations. Students who have safety concerns about their placements must be provided with supports until the safety concerns have abated. If the concerns cannot be adequately addressed, the student must be offered an alternative placement.”

            While it isn’t possible for the Practicum Education Office to create guidelines that cover every safety issue that could potentially develop while a student is in the field, we have created this set of guidelines in order to communicate the general expectations for the Practicum Instructor, agency, and student when it comes to safety.

            Guidelines for the agency/Practicum Instructor

            •  If not already available, prepare an accessible safety/risk management orientation prior to the student arriving at practicum.
            • Orient students to safety/risk management policies and procedures within the first two weeks of practicum placement.
              • Orientation should include:
                • Security of belongings
                • Safety issues with clients specific to client population and service setting
                • Safety within the practicum site building and in the office
                • Safety during home visits or other travel outside of the office
                • Health precautions and protocols
            • Review all safety/risk management policies and procedures with the student(s) at least once per semester, or more often if needed.
            • Discuss assessing and handling risk in the field should be incorporated into supervision meetings.
            • Students should not be required to start unaccompanied home visits without appropriate training and shadowing of an experienced worker. The student and Practicum Instructor should have a plan in place for home visits that assures the Practicum Instructor or Preceptor is aware of the details of the visit, and the Practicum Instructor or Preceptor should have the student’s cell phone number.
            • Students should not be left to staff an office or see clients without other staff present in the building.
            • Report critical incidents immediately, in accordance with the Critical Incident policy.
            • Please see Appendix A for more helpful information about developing a safety plan with your student.

            Guidelines for students

            • Become familiar with the safety policies and procedures of the agency.
            • Become familiar with the area in which the student is placed, including parking availability.
            • Be able to explain knowledge of the safety/risk management policies and procedures to the liaison during the site visit.
            • If a student has been asked to do something that makes them feel at risk physically, the student should contact their Practicum Instructor, Practicum Liaison, or the Practicum Education Office immediately. Report critical incidents immediately, in accordance with the Critical Incident policy.

            Safety and COVID19 and Other Health Guidelines

            All KU School of Social Work Students MUST adhere to KU and practicum site COVID19 and other health related guidelines. Doing so protects you, the people you serve, and the people you work. You are responsible for staying up to date on your practicum site safety guideline changes. Check in with your field instructor frequently. Contact the Director of Practicum Education if you need assistance purchasing PPE, such as face masks.

            If your agency requires proof of vaccination to intern at their facility, students may either comply with the requirement or contact the to discuss a new placement. 

            COVID19 Symptom Screening Guidelines for Students

            Each day, PRIOR to attending practicum- self-assess for common COVID-19 symptoms and adherence to Protect KU and practicum site guidelines. If you answer yes to any symptom question or are not compliant with guidelines (i.e. have traveled or had contact with a person who may have COVID-19). Do NOT proceed to practicum. If the symptoms arise while at practicum: 1) follow practicum site specific protocol for safely exiting practicum, 2) contact your field instructor, 3) contact your health provider or local health department, and 4) quarantine 30 until otherwise instructed by a medical professional. In the case that you are precluded from attending practicum, contact your Practicum Instructor and Practicum Liaison. Your Field Instructor and can assist in planning short-term remote learning activities that are directly tied to your practicum agency’s clients, practices, and programming if you are up to engaging in the work.

            Personal Safety Screening for Students

            If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, STAY HOME and contact your primary care physician, local health department, or Watkins Health Services (on Lawrence campus, 785-864-9583).

            • Fever/chills
            • Cough
            • Shortness of breath
            • Fatigue
            • Muscle/body aches
            • Headache
            • New loss of taste or smell
            • Sore throat
            • Runny or stuffy nose
            • Nausea/vomiting
            • Diarrhea


              Along with the expectation that students abide by standards set forth in the School of Social Welfare’s Student Handbooks, it is also expected that other members of the University community uphold the University’s nondiscrimination standards.

              Pursuant to an agreement with the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, the University of Kansas is required to include the following nondiscrimination statement in University, including departmental, online and print publications:

              The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.

              This value commitment is also part of the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This Code “protects the rights of every student and describes responsibilities or expectations for student conduct. As such, it forms a significant part of the rules of the campus community. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies that govern student conduct. This information may be found at:

              If a student believes that their rights have been violated the student is encouraged to seek consultation from a faculty consultant on harassment and discrimination. Or, as with any member of the University community the student has the right to contact the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access.

              Critical Incidents

              For purposes of this policy, “critical incident” is defined as:

              • Injury to the student and/or client under the immediate care/supervision of the student
              • Threat of violence to a student by a client or practicum site staff
              • Abusive behavior by the student towards a client or practicum site staff
              • Law violation by the student
              • Any event that could have a profound impact on the student

              In the event of a critical incident, the student should:

              1. Obtain medical attention, if needed
              2. Immediately notify the Field Instructor of the incident
              3. Establish with the Field Instructor if further action (law enforcement involvement, etc.) is needed
              4. Contact the Field Liaison and/or the Director of Field Education within 24 hours of the incident and report:
                1. What happened
                2. Who was involved
                3. Where/when it happened

              The Practicum Instructor should:

              1. Contact with Practicum Liaison and/or the Director of Practicum Education within 24 hours of the incident to report what happened, including how the practicum site is handling the incident.

              The Practicum Liaison should:

              1. Contact the Director of Practicum Education with any report of a critical incident.

              The Director of Practicum Education should:

              1. Make contact with the student to ensure that resources and appropriate referrals are made.
              2. Plan with the student to ensure physical and emotional safety are addressed at the practicum placement.
              3. Plan with the practicum site regarding how to reduce the risk for critical incidents involving students in the future.

              Sexual Harassment

              As stated by the University of Kansas Office for Institutional Opportunity and Access (IOA), “The University of Kansas prohibits sexual harassment and is committed to preventing, correcting, and disciplining incidents of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual assault.” The School of Social Welfare shares this strong commitment.

              IOA defines sexual harassment as:

              Behavior, including physical contact, advances, and comments in person, through an intermediary, and/or via phone, text message, email, social media, or other electronic medium, that is unwelcome; based on sex or gender stereotypes; and is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a person’s academic performance, employment or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities or by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment. Sexual Harassment may include but is not limited to:

              1. Unwelcome efforts to develop a romantic or sexual relationship;
              2. Unwelcome commentary about an individual’s body or sexual activities;
              3. Threatening to engage in the commission of an unwelcome sexual act with another person;
              4. Stalking or cyber stalking;
              5. Engaging in indecent exposure; voyeurism, or other invasion of personal privacy;
              6. Unwelcome physical touching or closeness; unwelcome jokes or teasing of a sexual nature or based upon gender or sex stereotypes; and
              7. Sexual Violence

              If a student experiences any form of sexual harassment while at a field practicum setting, the student is strongly encouraged to notify the Field Instructor, any Field Education Office staff including the Director, an Associate Director, or a Liaison, and/or the IOA Office at: or (785) 864-6414, 711 TTY. If a student sexually harasses any person while in practicum, this should also be reported to the Field Education Office immediately, regardless of the student’s involvement in internal practicum site processes in regards to the harassment.

              For more information about sexual harassment and available resources, please visit the IOA sexual harassment webpage.

                Students with Accommodations

                1. Once a student has identified that they have a disability and will need accommodations, the student will be referred to the Student Access Center (SAC) to work with a specialist on the specific accommodations needed.
                2.  After receiving confirmation that the student has identified accommodations with SAC, the student should provide the Associate Director with information regarding the accommodations the student anticipates for practicum. The student may be requested to obtain language describing the accommodations from the SAC.
                3. The Associate Director will work with the student to find a practicum site that is of interest. However, some accommodations may limit the practicum site options available to a student.
                4. The practicum site Associate Director will contact the practicum site and relay the language that has been provided by the student or SAC regarding accommodations, to assess with the practicum site if they can accommodate the student. At this point, the student may opt to share or not share their identity.
                5. Once the Associate Director and the student have identified an practicum site that is ready to interview the student, the student will be responsible for working with SAC to provide accommodation language that is specific to the practicum site and will discuss with the practicum site during the interview process.
                6. An accommodations letter, drafted by the SAC, must be provided by the student to the field practicum site and the Field Education Office before beginning practicum.

                Pregnant and Newly Parenting Students

                The School of Social Welfare recognizes the importance of helping pregnant and newly parenting students to maintain progress in their academic degree programs. Family well-being and gender equity both demand that academic institutions remain responsive to the challenges that pregnancy, recent childbirth, adoption, or placement of a foster child in the home can bring. Moreover, as an educational institution that receives federal funds, the SSW is required to comply with Title IX. In accordance with Title IX, we encourage pregnant and new parents to review the federal government’s policy on this issue. In accordance with the KULC Academic Accommodations for New Parents policy, students, faculty, instructors, and field staff are expected to work with sensitivity and imagination, making good-faith efforts to articulate and meet the needs of student parents. Students are expected to be proactive in articulating specific accommodations that will enable them to remain in good standing and maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree

                New parents who arrange for an academic accommodation will be able to maintain their established enrollment level (full-time or part-time) until the end of the accommodation period or the end of the semester, whichever comes first. They will thus retain access to all KU facilities and privileges for which they are eligible (including, but not limited to, student health insurance, libraries, email, and parking), and they will continue to be students at their established level for all university matters involving financial aid (e.g., loan eligibility and deferment) and immigration (e.g., immigration requirements). This policy provides academic accommodation only. If new parents must also take time off work, it may result in income and/or a loss of funding support. This policy does not alter or modify the university’s employment policies concerning paid or unpaid time off. Students employed on campus should consult with their employers if they need to request time off from work.

                Field Practicum Placements and Accommodations

                The field practicum site is an extension of the educational environment. Therefore, students entitled to accommodations in the classroom are entitled to equivalent accommodations in practicum. Students who are pregnant or welcoming new children and will need accommodations in practicum should contact the Director of Practicum Education as soon as possible before they wish to begin accommodations. For employment based practicums or practicums with a stipend, refer to practicum site policy regarding the impact of accommodations on student financial support.

                Pregnancy and Parenting Accommodations

                • If a student’s absence from practicum is medically necessary, and that necessity is documented by a health provider, the student should be allowed to miss practicum without an impact on their grade. The student should contact their Practicum Instructor to ensure that any client needs are taken care of when the student is unable to attend.
                  • Similarly, if a practicum assignment is late due to medical necessity related to the pregnancy, the Practicum Liaison should not refuse to accept the late assignment.
                  • The student will be expected to complete the required number of hours in practicum, regardless of medical leave. The student should work with the Practicum Liaison and the Practicum Instructor to establish times to make up the missed practicum hours after the medical leave is no longer needed.
                • If the student wishes to arrange pregnancy and parenting accommodations with their practicum agency, the student should contact the Director of Practicum Education as soon as possible.
                  • The student will be expected to fill out the Modified Plan Request form, which requires the student describe or submit:
                    • Approximately when the leave is anticipated to take place.
                    • How the student will modify practicum hours to enable the leave of up to 6 weeks. This could include adding extra practicum hours in the weeks prior to the leave, adding extra practicum hours in the weeks after leave has concluded, or extending practicum into the summer.
                    • Verification that the Practicum Instructor/practicum site is aware of and supports the plan. If the practicum site is not able to support the student’s plan, the Practicum Education Office will work with the student to attempt to find another practicum opportunity that will enable to student to take maternity/paternity leave without delaying the student’s progress in the program.
                  • Once the Modified Plan form has been received, including verification from the agency, the Director of Practicum Education will notify the BSW or MSW Program Director of the leave plan.
                  • The Practicum Education Office will make every effort to modify the student’s plan, such modifications may not be possible depending on the timing of the birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child in the home.

                  Beginning July 1, 2017, Kansas law allows for the concealed carry of handguns in most buildings and areas on University campuses. The University of Kansas has developed a concealed carry policy to help provide guidance to its employees and students about how the terms of this law apply on the KU campus, in public spaces and in classrooms. KU employees and students should read this policy, known as the Personal and Family Protection Act (PFPA), to fully inform their responsibilities should they carry a concealed weapon or become aware that another person is doing so.

                  Individuals who choose to carry concealed handguns are solely responsible to do so in a safe and secure manner in strict conformity with state and federal laws and KU weapons policy. Safety measures outlined in the KU weapons policy specify that a concealed handgun:

                  • Must be under the constant control of the carrier
                  • Must be out of view, concealed either on the body of the carrier, or in a backpack, purse, or bag that remains at all times under the carrier’s custody and control
                  • Must be in a holster that covers the trigger area and secures any external hammer in an un-cocked position, and
                  • Must have the safety on, and have no round in the chamber.

                  Individuals who violate the KU weapons policy may be asked to leave campus with the weapon and may face disciplinary action under the appropriate university code of conduct.

                  This course may involve activities in which students (1) will not be able to be in constant control of their belongings including backpacks, purses and other bags (examples: small group activities requiring movement around the classroom, tests, quizzes, field trips, study abroad courses) or (2) will be engaged in interactive movement and/or physical contact with others that may reveal the presence of a concealed handgun.* Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun must review and plan each day accordingly and are responsible for making alternative arrangements as necessary. The University does not provide appropriate secured storage for concealed handguns.

                  Further, unless your practicum is physically located on a KU campus that is covered by the PFPA, this provision of the law does not apply to your practicum site. Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun are responsible for knowing and following all related laws, restrictions, and policies related to their assigned practicum site.

                  Learning Contract

                  The Learning Contract due dates are listed on the practicum calendar at the top of the Handbook.  

                  The Learning Contract is the required agreement made between the student, the Practicum Instructor and the Practicum Liaison about what the student is going to learn and how the student will accomplish this learning. The Learning Contract should describe specifically what the student will be doing in practicum, and how the assigned activities will engage the student with the competencies and practice behaviors identified by the School. The Learning Contract also serves as the basis for the ongoing evaluation of student progress in practicum. Remember that the Learning Contract covers two semesters and may be modified as new learning opportunities become available. It is not expected that every practice behavior will be fully attained during the first semester.

                  Learning Contract Templates for each program and student level can be found in Sonia. If the student, Field Instructor, or Field Liaison have any technical issues while completing/reviewing the Contract, please contact or (785) 864-2268 for assistance.

                  Learning Contract by Student Level

                  The BSW and MSW Generalist Level Practicum is designed to provide students with a generalist perspective that will provide them with the opportunity to integrate knowledge obtained in the classroom with the realities of social work practice in practicum site and community settings. The Generalist Level MSW Practicum is intended to foster a professional social work identity and to prepare students for Advanced Level learning in either the Clinical Specialization or the Macro Practice Specialization.

                  The Advanced Level MSW Clinical Specialization Practicum focuses on helping the student develop the knowledge and skills to apply social work theory, methods, and values to the treatment and prevention of psychosocial problems, disability, or impairment, including emotional and mental disorders. Clinical practice includes the application of assessment and diagnostic strategies, the articulation of a treatment plan that may include psychotherapy, counseling, client advocacy, systemic and organizational interventions, consultation and evaluation, and other clinically appropriate interventions with individuals, families, couples, groups and social systems. The Practicum engages the student in supervised social work practice to develop these skills and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field setting. This includes classes in Clinical Social Work Practice, clinical practice strategies with diverse populations, specialized knowledge in a field of practice or client population (health/mental health, children & families, aging, schools), and macro level interventions used by clinical social work practitioners.

                  The Advanced Level MSW Social Work Macro Practice Specialization Practicum focuses on helping the student develop the knowledge and skills to manage and develop human service practicum sites that improve the well-being of the clients it serves. Social work administrators do this through professional activities that include designing programs, managing resources, managing people, managing information, and influencing relationships with relevant community organizations and stakeholders. The Practicum engages the student in supervised social work practice to develop these skills and provides students with opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field setting. This includes classes in designing social work programs, financial management, advanced policy and programs, personnel management and assessing and managing client outcomes.

                  For all BSW and MSW students, the Learning Contract for each level contains core competencies, with each competency containing practice behaviors specific to the student’s level. The competencies and practice behaviors contained in the Learning Contract are interwoven throughout the curriculum at each level and address the Council on Social Work Education’s accreditation standards. It is expected that in numerous instances, classroom assignments may also be appropriate tasks for field practicum. Students are strongly encouraged to share their course syllabi and assignments with their Practicum Instructors.

                  Steps when Developing the Initial Learning Contract

                  1. After the initial orientation is completed, the student will write the initial draft of the Learning Contract in Sonia and submit for review by the Practicum Instructor. Students and the Practicum Instructor should brainstorm specific tasks and activities. Ideas may also surface while shadowing the Practicum Instructor, Preceptor, or others during the first weeks in the agency.
                  2. Once the initial draft is developed, the Practicum Instructor will review the Learning Contract and offer any additional feedback and suggested revisions. Once the Learning Contract has been updated with any feedback, the Practicum Instructor will submit it through Sonia.
                  3. When the initial Learning Contract is submitted by the student and Practicum Instructor, the Practicum Liaison when then review the Learning Contract and offer suggestions and/or request revisions. Once the Learning Contract has been updated, the Practicum Liaison should submit the Learning Contract.

                  Academic Misconduct

                  When a student is completing the Learning Contract, it is appropriate to consult with the Practicum Instructor, the Practicum Liaison, and/or others at the practicum agency, as well as reviewing examples provided by the Practicum Education Office. However, it is not appropriate or ethical to copy verbatim activities from:

                  • A current student’s Learning Contract
                  • A former student’s Learning Contract
                  • The sample contracts provided by the Field Education Office

                  Doing so is considered academic misconduct and may result in a Student Review Committee (SRC) meeting to determine next steps in the program.

                  Using/Revising the Learning Contract

                  Weekly supervision sessions offer a good opportunity for ongoing review of the Learning Contract. Areas in need of improvement, and/or additional learning opportunities the student wishes to have should be identified during the Mid-year Evaluation. At the beginning of the spring semester, the Learning Contract should be revised/updated. This update does not require rewriting the entire Learning Contract, but it does require reviewing it to determine:

                  • Which practice behaviors/learning objectives still need to be addressed;
                  • Which tasks outlined in the Initial Learning Contract require additional practice opportunities to attain basic competence;
                  • What new learning opportunities are now appropriate and available based on the Student’s progress during the fall semester and considering new practice learning experiences that may not have been available when the Initial Learning Contract was first written.

                  After the spring revision of the contract has been completed, the same review process as detailed in the prior section should be used.

                  Reflective Writing for MSW Concentration Year Students

                  Students are expected to complete one reflection per semester that they are in practicum on the due date set in the practicum calendar. The purpose of the reflection is to provide Practicum Liaisons a brief update of their practicum progress. The student will receive a prompt no later than November 1 with correlating instructions for submission from their Practicum Liaison. The reflection can include reflections on student strengths and challenges, client interactions and reactions, observations, connections between coursework and practicum experiences, ethical dilemmas, and/or any other professional topics the student wishes to explore.  Carefully monitor client confidentiality and privacy considerations when completing a reflections to ensure you are not violating confidentiality.

                  Length is not significant, nor is proper formatting, but the writing/reporting should be understandable to a reviewer, which in this case is the liaison. 

                  Professional Writing Sample for MSW Concentration Year Students

                  Students should submit a sample of their professional writing to their Practicum Liaison, which may be discussed in the site visit, on the due date identified in the MSW Concentration Year Calendar. Examples of sample writing include: client assessments, clinical summaries, client progress notes, court reports, working memoranda, position papers, and formal email communication. The major purpose of this type of writing is to communicate with others about the work accomplished. These written documents typically belong in agency files. With this type of writing, not only is the content critical, but so is the technical skill.  Attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, appropriate usage, and professionalism is imperative. Consistent with the agency’s policies protecting the confidentiality of client information and the principles within the NASW Code of Ethics, all identifying client information should be changed or blacked out before sharing professional writing samples with the Practicum LiaisonIf the student, Practicum Instructor, or Practicum Liaison identifies concerns with the student’s writing, they will be referred for KUSSW Writing Specialist’ support.

                  Formal evaluation of student progress in the Practicum occurs twice – first at the end of Fall semester and again at the end of Spring semester when the student has completed approximately 1/2 of the required Practicum hours-- and again at the end of Spring semester when all of the required Practicum hours and assignments are completed. The same evaluation instrument is used for both semesters and is available in Sonia.

                  Each practice behavior needs to be evaluated, using the rating scale provided in the Evaluation.  Along with the rating of student performance, the Practicum Instructor should write a brief narrative identifying the student's areas of competency and areas for growthIf a Preceptor is involved in the student's practicum, the Preceptor should be consulted by the Field Instructor in the evaluation of the student's performance in relevant areas. 

                  The Practicum Liaison must have the evaluation before a grade can be assigned. If the Mid-Year or Final Evaluation has not been submitted in Sonia by the time grades are due, then she/he will not assign a grade. All Field Education requirements (hours, learning assignments, writing assignments, and completed evaluations) must be completed before a final end of year grade can be submitted. Students without a grade assigned at the end of the year are not allowed to graduate, or progress to the advanced level of the program. The student could also be at risk of receiving an Unsatisfactory grade if an approved plan for an Incomplete has not been established before the end of the semester.

                  Work related violence against social workers is a fact of life. It is pervasive and must be addressed by every school of social work, practicum site and individual worker. Violence includes physical assault, verbal assault, harassment and the threat of assault. Many occurrences of violence can be anticipated and their impact lessened; some may be prevented entirely. If practicum sites have well conceived safety policies and procedures in place, client and worker safety will be maximized and the practicum site’s liability will be minimized.

                  NASW Massachusetts Chapter's Committee for the Study and Prevention of Violence Against Social Workers recommends that every practicum site and private practitioner develop safety policies and procedures that address prevention, intervention and aftermath strategies. Listed below is an outline of requirements for developing a comprehensive policy and safety plan. This outline is general. Each practicum site or private practice must develop specific guidelines that address their unique characteristics.

                  I. Safety Plan of Action

                  A written safety plan specific to the function and layout of each agency, or branch or division of an organization must be developed. Both staff input and expert consultation are important in the planning. Each safety plan must be detailed and comprehensive so that all staff members, clinical and non-clinical, know what to do in case of emergency. The plan must be reviewed and practiced on a regular basis if it is to be useful. A comprehensive safety plan should include:

                  • How to recognize signs of agitation.
                  • What to do at first signs of agitation.
                  • Code words and phrases to signal for help without increasing the client's agitation
                  • Format for ongoing assessment of a client's level of dangerousness.
                  • Format for intervention including:
                    • When and how to attempt de-escalation.
                    • When and how to use non-violent self-defense, physical evasion, force deflection and disengagement skills.
                    • When and how to call security or police.
                    • When and how to evacuate building.

                  II. Exterior and Physical Layout

                  • Maintain and furnish the facility so that it presents an organized, calm and respectful appearance to clients. Pay particular attention to the waiting area.
                  • Ensure adequate lighting inside and out.
                  • Be aware of traffic patterns with special attention to where clients can go unescorted. If the location of bathrooms and coffee area allows unescorted clients to walk through the building, be aware of the risks.
                  • Establish a risk room where potentially violent or agitated clients can be seen. This room should be furnished in a sparse, neutral manner, and located in a centrally located area with ready access to help.
                  • Evaluate the need for safety equipment including buzzers and alarms in offices.
                  • Furnish offices to allow a comfortable distance between client and worker and to permit easy exit for both. Eliminate items that may be thrown or used as weapons.
                  • Routinely inspect exterior and interior layout and all safety equipment to ensure all is in working order.

                  III. Rules, Regulations and Procedures

                  • Establish a format for taking a required history of violence as a part of regular intake procedure.
                  • Establish a format for communicating violent history to staff when current danger exists.
                  • Ensure adequate staffing at all times; no one should work in a building alone.
                  • Communicate safety policies to clients, when indicated.
                  • Orient new students to safety policy and plan.
                  • Formulate and post a policy re: providing services to clients who carry or have guns and weapons.
                  • Formulate and post a policy re: providing services to clients who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
                  • Provide ongoing supervision, consultation and training in:
                    • details of the safety policy and plan with regular updates. 
                    • assessment of the client's potential to become violent.
                    • treatment and clinical interventions with violent clients.
                    • de-escalation techniques.
                    • non-violent self-defense, physical evasion, force deflection and disengagement skills.
                    • Tarasoff decision - the duty to warn and protect.
                    • aftermath of client violence.
                  • Address institutional practices that unintentionally contribute to client violence.
                  • Develop a policy on home visits which include:
                    • leaving itinerary with office staff so worker location is known at all times.
                    • phoning the office frequently when in the field.
                    • providing portable phones and other safety equipment.
                    • providing options for escorts: staff or police.
                    • giving permission not to go when risk of violence is high.
                  • Establish relationships with security and police. Let them know what you do and what you need from them.
                  • Design a program to address the aftermath of client violence. Address the physical and emotional needs, short and long term, of the assaulted worker, worker's family, coworkers and affected clients as well as a format for debriefing and communicating with all staff following an occurrence of violence.
                  • Develop a format to address the consequences of violent behavior with the client. Include the effect of the violence on services. Develop a format to determine when and how legal action against the violent client will be taken.
                  • Log and communicate to staff all work-related occurrences of violence including threats.
                  • Re-evaluate policies, procedures and training needs following an occurrence of violence.
                  • Develop a "Risk Assessment" tool and train all staff to use it.


                  *All information is this section is taken from the National Association of Social Workers web site.

                  Technical Standards

                  First, students must attest that they possess the physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral attributes necessary to fulfill the requirements of social work education. To adequately prepare for, and engage in, social work practice, students must be able to demonstrate the following abilities in order to fully participate in all aspects of coursework and the field practicum. 

                  1. Communication- A student must be able to communicate effectively, sensitively, and professionally with other students, faculty, staff, clients, field instructor, and practicum agency staff in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics.  Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing.  The student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form.  
                  2. Motor and Sensory- A student must have sufficient motor and sensory function to be able to attend class and complete a practicum placement, with or without accommodation, by executing motor movements reasonably required to function in an academic environment and provide services to clients.  Where indicated by a letter of accommodation from the Academic Achievement and Access Center, they shall make reasonable accommodation in order to allow the student to meet these standards.
                  3. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities- A student must possess reasoning, analysis, and synthesis abilities.  Problem solving, a critical skill required of a social worker, requires all of these intellectual abilities.  These skills are necessary in order for students to make proper assessments, prioritize interventions, and measure/report client and community outcomes.
                  4. Behavioral and Social Attributes- A student must possess the behavioral and social skills required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities as specified in the BSW & MSW handbook, and the development of sensitive and effective professional relationships with clients and community members, in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics.  A student must be able to function effectively under stress.  A student must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent to social work practice.  Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skill, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and education process.  A student must be willing to effectively use help and supports for medical or emotional issues that interfere with performance.
                  5. Self-awareness-A student must know how their values, beliefs, past experiences, and attitudes impact their own thought processes and behaviors.  The student must be prepared to engage in self-reflection and change behaviors that obstruct their work with clients and community members, agency staff, field instructors, other students, faculty, and staff.  A student must be able to tolerate ambiguity.  
                  6. Appreciation of diversity- In accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics, a student must be able to work with a variety of diverse groups, and progress towards cultural competence regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability. 

                  Ethical Behavior Standards

                  The School has a professional values commitment that requires the highest standards of conduct in human interactions. Students must agree to abide by the ethical requirements of the NASW Code of Ethics.  Student behaviors in classroom, field, university and the wider community should demonstrate adherence to the ethical expectations and obligations of professional practice, noted in the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Student Code of Conduct. This includes, though may not be limited to:

                  • Adherence to the NASW Code of Ethics and the KU Student Code of Conduct.
                  • No involvement with the criminal justice system that is so recent, consistent and/or serious that it may prevent one’s ability to engage in effective professional practice.
                  • Systematic evaluation of clients, communities and larger environmental systems and their situations in an unbiased, factual way.  Suspension of personal biases during interactions with others.
                  • Comprehension of a variety of ways of life and values. Empathic communication and support of the client and community systems as a basis for a productive professional relationship.
                  • Appreciation of the value of diversity. Effective and nonjudgmental relation to and work with others who are different from oneself.  Appropriate service to all persons in need of assistance, regardless of the person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.   No imposition of personal, religious, sexual, and/or cultural values on clients or communities.
                  • Demonstration of respect for the rights of others.  Commitment to clients’ and communities’ rights to freedom of choice and self-determination.
                  • Maintenance of confidentiality as it relates to human services, classroom activities, and field placements.
                  • Demonstration of honesty and integrity by being truthful about background, experiences, and qualifications; doing one’s own work; giving credit for the ideas of others; and providing proper citation of source materials. Behavior should be consistent with the rules on Academic Misconduct found in the University Senate Rules and Regulations and the School of Social Welfare statements on avoiding Academic Misconduct found elsewhere in the MSW Student Handbook.
                  • Demonstration of clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.  Does not sexually harass others; make verbal or physical threats; commit acts of violence; become involved in sexual relationships with clients, supervisors, or faculty; abuse others in physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual ways; or participate in dual relationships where conflicts of interest may exist.

                  Professional Conduct Standards

                  The School of Social Work recognizes that preparation for professional practice requires more than scholastic achievement. The program expects students to exhibit behaviors that are consistent with the behaviors one would commonly encounter when engaging with professional social work practitioners.  These are norms of decorum, presentation of self, respectful professional interaction, and qualities such as consistency, reliability, and self-reflection. Such behavior is expected not only in the classroom but throughout the University and the larger community. Thus, we expect that to remain in good standing with the School of Social Welfare MSW program, students must continuously demonstrate:

                  Professional Commitment. Exhibits a strong commitment to the goals of social work and to the ethical standards of the profession, as specified in the NASW Code of Ethics. Demonstrates commitment to the essential values of social work that include the respect for the dignity and worth of every individual and a commitment to social justice.

                  Professional Conduct. Students are preparing for professional practice while they are students in the School of Social Welfare.  Thus, we expect them to exhibit behaviors that:

                  • Comply with program policies, institutional policies, and professional ethical standards.
                  • Are consistent with societal laws that are relevant to social work ethics and values and to the ability to practice professional social work effectively. 
                  • Are professional in terms of appearance, dress, and general demeanor, including the use of appropriately professional language and tone of voice in interactions with clients, faculty, administration, staff, and other students.
                  • Show potential for responsible and accountable behavior by knowing and practicing within the scope of social work, respecting others, being punctual and dependable, prioritizing responsibilities, attending class regularly, observing deadlines, completing assignments on time, keeping appointments or making appropriate arrangements, and accepting supervision and constructive criticism in a positive manner.  
                  • Demonstrate a prioritization of educational goals and the ability to balance competing life priorities.
                  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively make and implement a plan of study in cooperation with the faculty and staff.
                  • Work effectively with others, regardless of level of authority.
                  • Advocate for themselves in an appropriate and responsible manner and use proper channels for conflict resolution. 
                  • Show a willingness to receive and accept feedback and supervision in a positive manner, as well as use such feedback to enhance professional development.

                  For more information about these performance standards, please see the BSW or MSW Student handbooks

                  Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information in the Practicum Education Handbook. However, policies and procedures may shift in response to student, community partner, faculty, and staff circumstances. Significant changes to Practicum Education policies are communicated to the KUSSW community in the Handbook, via email, and at orientations. Contact if there is specific information you need to be verified or if you find an error in the handbook.

                  Revised 8/1/2022

                  2022-2023 Practicum Education Calendar - Specialist Year

                  Clinical and Macro - Specialist

                  Practicum Fall 2022 Aug.-Dec. Calendar

                  • August 22

                    Classes begin

                  • August 23-27

                    Specialist Practicum begins

                  • September 16

                    Specialist Learning Contracts due to Practicum Instructors (Complete in Sonia)

                  • September 23

                    Specialist Learning Contracts due to Practicum Liaison (Complete to Sonia)

                  • October 21

                    Specialist Professional Writing Sample due to Practicum Liaison

                  • November 23-26

                    Thanksgiving Break

                  • December 2

                    Specialist Fall semester reflection due to Practicum Liaison

                  • December 14

                    Specialist Mid-year evaluation / Time sheets due to Seminar Instructors (Complete to Sonia). Winter Break Begins.

                  • January 2

                    Specialist Practicum Winter Break ends

                  Practicum Spring 2023 Jan.-May Calendar

                  • January 2

                    Specialist Return to practicum (week of)

                  • January 17

                    Classes begin

                  • February 3

                    Specialist Learning Contract revisions due to Practicum Liaisons (Complete per Practicum Liaison's Instructions)

                  • February 10

                    Social Work Fair

                  • February 17

                    Specialist Spring Semester Reflection due to Practicum Liaison

                  • March 13-18

                    Spring Break

                  • April 28

                    Specialist Final Evaluation/Time sheet due to Seminar Instructors (Complete in Sonia). Practicum Ends for Spring Semester.

                  2022-2023 Practicum Education Calendar - Generalist Year

                  BSW and MSW Foundation - Generalist

                  Practicum Fall 2022 Aug.-Dec. Calendar

                  • August 22

                    Classes begin

                  • August 23-27

                    Generalist Practicum begins

                  • September 16

                    Generalist Learning Contracts due to Practicum Instructors (Complete in Sonia)

                  • October 8-11

                    Fall Break

                  • November 21-27

                    Thanksgiving Break

                  • December 2

                    Generalist Mid-year evaluation/Time sheets due to Liaison (Complete in Sonia)

                  • December 5

                    Generalist Practicum Winter Break begins

                  • January 3

                    Generalist Practicum Winter Break ends

                  Practicum Spring 2023 Jan.-May Calendar

                  • January 4-6

                    Generalist Return to practicum

                  • January 17

                    Classes begin

                  • February 10

                    Social Work Fair

                  • March 13-18

                    Generalist Spring Break

                  • April 12

                    Generalist Practicum ends for spring semester

                  • April 12

                    Generalist Final Evaluation/Time sheet due to Liaison (Complete in Sonia)

                  • May 7

                    Last day of classes

                  Contact Information

                  Mailing Address:

                  Practicum Education Office

                  University of Kansas

                  School of Social Welfare

                  1545 Lilac Lane

                  Lawrence, KS  66045-3129

                  School of Social Welfare Website


                  Phone: 785-864-4720


                  Practicum Education Staff